'Football can be part of a lovely day'

Lifelong West Ham United fan and London Legacy Development Corporation executive Paul Brickell was on hand to show Hammers duo Carlton Cole and Matt Jarvis the spectacular surrounds that await them come 2016.

Ahead of Saturday's grand opening of the newly-landscaped south section of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Mr Brickell, executive director of regeneration and community partnerships, spoke of his excitement as legacy momentum continues to gather pace.

Mr Brickell, himself a Hammers Season Ticket Holder, expects the Park to prove a huge hit with locals young and old, none more so than when the West Ham family join the party two years down the line.

He told West Ham TV: "The whole south Park area is going to be a very fun place to be. On the day that we open, next Saturday, acrobats will fly off the top of the Orbit and that's the sense of what this place will be weekend in, weekend out, day in, day out, but then with these other amazing facilities.             


"The London Aquatic Centre has only been open for three or four weeks now and has been enormously popular. This is just an amazing place that brings together fun for families, with serious sports. Whether it's football, swimming, athletics or cycling, it will carry that Olympic thing of come along and have fun, but also maybe get inspired and find something that you can do for the rest of your life.

Paul Brickell

Paul Brickell discusses Park life with the Hammers duo

"You begin to see how you could have the family day out here. Not everybody has to come to the football match, or you can come and spend the morning in the Park, go to the game and then have something to eat and drink. I think there are 70 restaurants in Westfield, for example. That's why it's not difficult to see that the Stadium will be filled week in, week out, because even if you haven't come just for the football, the football can be part of a lovely day."

For Mr Brickell, however, his influence and ambition extends far beyond the Park, with the plan having always been to use the Olympic legacy as a tool to regenerate and boost east London and its many communities.     

He continued: "The Park is fantastic, but we've always seen the Park as part of a new part of London. Some of it came before the Park, Westfield shopping centre came with tens of thousands of jobs and employment was one of the key reasons that we wanted this here. We wanted to give local people, local young people particularly, the chance to work here.

"We've had a very large number of people working during the construction phase and a lot of apprentices, who've started their careers in construction here. Now as we move into the venues being active and the Park's management, all of that work is local jobs and apprenticeships making sure people get a good start in their career.

"So one of the things that I'm doing is making sure that we get every ounce of benefit out of the Park for the communities in and around it, which, in time, will lead onto the new homes that we've started to build."

Much of that benefit will hopefully come from the Olympic Stadium, which will first open for the Rugby World Cup in 2015, prior to the Hammers taking up residency the following summer. Mr Brickell, who has been watching his beloved Hammers for some 46 years, is already eyeing up his seat in the Club's new home.     


 "We already have a sense of what it will be like from the Olympic Games, an enormous cauldron of noise and it's going to be like that only more intense," he added. "Many of us just can't wait to get in there.

"I'm a Season Ticket Holder in the Alpari Lower and I keep saying to the guys who are designing the Stadium - I know it'll probably be in mid-air - but show me the best seats so that I can get in there early!"